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Lingerie Football: You can't spell panties without P-A-I-N

Players knew that joining the Lingerie Football League's Tampa Breeze team would be tough.

They'd have to learn the game, get good at it, and then persuade fans to buy tickets to see them in action. Not to mention, they'd have to play in skimpy uniforms prone to wardrobe malfunctions.

What the women didn't take into account was the possibility of injury. As the team heads into its second and last home game on Friday, a few of the players are nursing injuries sustained during games or practices. The quarterback, Jenn Myers, fractured her ankle, and wide receiver Ashley Thunder got a concussion. Kim Cathey tore her ACL during a practice and was benched for the season. Emanda Doscher hurt a rib.

And that doesn't include all the busted lips, jammed fingers and turf burn.

"After the first game, I felt like I had been hit by a truck, and I wasn't injured," Myers said. "I couldn't get up, lift my head or move my neck from side and side. You're not used to being tackled."

The 10-team league, now in its first season, plays 7-on-7 full-contact football wearing a helmet, and shoulder, elbow and knee pads. Each team has four games — two at home and two away — with the Eastern and Western conference champs competing in the Lingerie Bowl, the annual Super Bowl halftime event aired on pay-per-view TV.

Tampa's Breeze lost its first two games and must win the next two if it hopes to make the playoffs. Myers, 29, was iffy for Friday's game.

"It would kill me to have to miss a game when it's such a short season," she said last week. "I'm walking on it no problem, but we're playing by it ear.''

Myers hurt her right ankle during the Breeze's game against the Philadelphia Passion on Dec. 11. She was getting ready to throw the ball when her foot got caught up in a bump on the artificial turf and she got hit by an opposing player, she said. She hopped off the field and sat out the rest of the game. For the next three weeks, she wore a boot.

Teammate Ashley Thunder got a concussion after colliding into an opposing player during the Dec. 4 game against the Chicago Bliss. She was unconscious for 10 minutes, she said, and left the game on a stretcher. She spent the night at Tampa General Hospital.

"It was excruciatingly bad," said Thunder, a nickname her college tennis coach gave her for her strong serve. "My head was throbbing. I had to wear a neck brace and didn't leave my house for a week."

Thunder, 24, missed the next game — and a week of work waiting tables in Brandon — but intends to return Friday. She's suffered a concussion once before while practicing the high jump in high school and missing the mat.

"You have to take the ups and downs," she said. "I made a commitment to these girls. I have no regrets at all."

After the season ends, Myers plans to talk to league officials about adding pads or a form-fitting body suit to protect against turf burn. She believes the game can be safer without lowering the intensity or excitement level.

LFL spokesman Stephon McMillen said the league is learning as it evolves and next season plans to add a safety official. The Breeze's injuries aren't unique and have happened throughout the league, including one woman who unknowingly played with a concussion.

"We're just as concerned as any other league, but this is football and there are going to be injuries," he said. "Our girls are learning that they have to toughen up."

Tampa Breeze vs.
New York Majesty

Kickoff is at 9 p.m. Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tickets are $15-$85, plus service charges, through Ticketmaster or at the door. For details, see The Breeze's last regular season game is Jan. 22 against Miami Caliente at Sunrise.

Lingerie Football: You can't spell panties without P-A-I-N 01/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 9:14pm]
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